An exclusive interview with music composer Anuraag Saikia on winning the National Award
Anuraag Saikia is the shy, sweet and funny boy-next-door. Hailing from Moran, this young lad has achieved a lot when it comes to the professional front. Recently awarded with the Rajat Kamal for Best Music Direction in Non-feature film category for Assamese film Yugadrashta, the humble and down to earth composer talks to Creativica from Mumbai on receiving the National Award and about his work and life.
You have been in Mumbai for almost 6 years now. Tell us about your journey and experience over this period.
Well just reduce 3 years from that 6.
Yup! I was in Chennai for two years. Then I came to Mumbai, three years back.
Okay. Three years of working and living in Mumbai. How has it been?
2014 has been a good year for you so far with the Best Music Award for Shinyor at Prag Cine Awards and then winning The National Award for Yugadrashta.
It is a cliched question and it must have been asked to you already a number of times but how does it feel to have received one of the most prestigious awards in the country?
Every award is like an inspiration. But of course, when it comes to National Award it’s something different. Feel excited. So nervous! To receive the award from the president himself. It’s just like a dream.
A dream that has come true for you indeed.
Ya. Because I never expected this at this age. Of course, I work hard but National Award was something I never imagined at this age.
Everybody is so proud of you, especially your parents… They had accompanied you to the National Awards ceremony in Delhi?
Ya, my parents were there.
What was their reaction?
I guess that smile does sum up their reaction.
You had met Kabir Suman at the ceremony who received the National Award for Best Music direction for the Bengali feature film Jatishwar. And even he remarked that it feels great to see someone as young as you walk away with a National Award in hand. How was your experience of meeting him and interacting with him?
I was thrilled to meet him because to meet such a big personality is a very big thing for me and also to interact with such personality whose music we have been listening from our childhood is a dream come true.
I believe you are the youngest from Assam to have received the National Award. Do you mind me asking how old are you?
I was born in ‘88 December.
At 26, you are quite successful in your career.
I don’t think I am as successful. Because till now sometimes I have to borrow from my friends for my telephone bill. This successful tag is given to me by some people who love my work. Like you.
Your inspiration in the music industry. Someone you look up to?
I am always inspired by my parents because I belong from a musical family.
Oh. I didn’t know that! Can you tell me a bit more about your musical lineage?
My dad is a research scholar who also received the Pratima Pandey Award for his contribution towards Assamese folk music and my mom is a radio artist. She is a folk singer.
Wow! Music seems to have been in your genes.
Of course apart from them, I am inspired by Michael Jackson, Sting, Hans Zimmer, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika.
Yugadrashta is a biopic with a storyline set in the Sattras of Majuli. Did you require to do some research or extra home-work in composing music for the film? Was it different from the kind of work you usually do?
I am always inspired by Folk Music. Of course I did lots of research work, interacted with folk musicians from Majuli and Upper Assam. This is all because of them for which I got this award. I went to places, recorded and then mixed it in Mumbai. Of course I have to take the name of another gem of a National Award winning Sound Designer, Amrit Pritam who is the one to take my music to that level from where I can give you this interview. Note that, Amrit Pritam is the sound designer partner to Oscar winning Resul Pookuty.
I was about to ask you about your association with him.
Ya. We did a couple of good projects. We did the Logo Music and Sound for the INOX theatre. We did the same for Nadiadwala and Grandson Logo. Amrit & Resul did the sound and I did the music. Now we are working on a film called “Aasma” by Sudipto Sen.
Are there any other upcoming projects that you would like to share with us?
Ya. I am working on a project for Anurag Basu, Akarsh Khurana, Sudipto Sen, Pradip Kurbah, Bitopan Kashyap. Till now this much seems to be a lot for me. Other than that I am reading a couple of scripts coming my way.
You have worked in the Mumbai industry and also in the regional industry… What qualitative difference do you find when it comes to the functioning of the Assamese film industry and Bollywood?
It’s the same. The only thing it differs in is in two words. For Assam it’s Emotional and in Bollywood it’s Professional.
Another film from the North East that has earned recognition at the National Film Awards is “Ri” by Pradip Kurbah. In fact, it is the first Khasi film to have received a National Award. You have composed the original background score for that. How was it working with Pradip Kurbah?
PradipKurbah is a package of film making. When I first saw the film, I felt like watching a Japanese or a German film. So nicely shot and edited. It does not look like a regional film. I expect more from this film maker in the coming days.
Finally, your piece of advice to young aspirants in the music industry.
Don’t Drink and Drive! [Laughs]. Come on. I am young too. How can I advise? Not from me.
Thank you so much Anuraag for your time. And Congratulations on winning the National Award for best music direction. We wish you all the best for your career and may you bag many more awards in the times to come.
Thanks. Thank you so much for giving me this honour.